Help Build Space Plasma Thrusters, Because it is ImportantSpace: the Final Frontier. As it has stayed for decades. Isn't it about time we did something about that? Well, Some people are trying to do just that. But they need your help; rocket science isn't cheap, after all.
Open shutter image of an approximately 10 microsecond long plasma pulse in visible light.
HyperV makes plasma thrusters, and have for quite a while. They have made small thrusters, big thrusters, and the efficient thrusters in the world. But what they haven't made yet is a reusable thruster. They just don't have the funds to complete it.
Plasma thrusters are an ideal solution to space propulsion. They are a form of propulsion that falls under the electric category, meaning that their fuel is highly untraditional and powered by electricity, not heat and expanding gasses. While plasma is not the most efficient type of electric propulsion, it is one of the simplest. And considering we are already talking about thrusters many times more efficient than anything else we have, that simplicity probably matters more. That simplicity will be very important in long missions, where durability is key. Plus, there's the whole cost thing, where a plasma thruster has significant advantages.
HyperV Technologies' plasma jet testing facility.
If this project had been posted a year ago, I wouldn't have thought it had a purpose. In the meantime, however, SpaceX has done wonders with its Falcon 9, and Virgin Galactic has announced small-scale satellite launching from its White Knight 2 aircraft. Both of these solutions can get satellites into space for cheap, opening up the world of space exploration to people who never would have had it before. Universities can now afford to launch cubesats and, occasionally, larger satellites. The plasma thruster that these guys are developing will be critical to making those crafts interplanetary which, after all, is where all the interesting things are.
Their goal is modest: they need $69,000 to build their new repeatable thruster. At the rate they're getting pledges, they aren't going to make it; but the campaign has only been out for three days. Please, if you have any money to give, give it to them. Space exploration is important, people, which is why it comes up so often here. Space is our future, and how can we get there if we don't build it?